The Library of Congress announced that it will stop referring to undocumented immigrants as either “aliens” or “illegals,” according to the immigration advocacy group Dartmouth Coalition for Immigration Reform, Equality and DREAMers (CoFIRED), which launched petitions to stop the practice.
According to CoFIRED, the library's announcement that it will replace the slurs with the more culturally competent “noncitizen” and “unauthorized immigrants” follows two years of petitions from the group. Echoing calls from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), CoFIRED co-director Dennise Hernández has recommended that media outlets follow the Library of Congress' example:
“We call on both politicians and media outlets to follow the precedent set by the Library of Congress. It is way past time that we all recognize that referring to immigrants as 'illegal' is an offensive, dehumanizing term and that there is no excuse to continue using it.”
The Associated Press Stylebook moved away from the term in 2013, advising the use of “illegal” in reference only to actions, not people. Mekahlo Medina, president of NAHJ and anchor for NBC Los Angeles, said, “Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed.”
Meanwhile, right-wing media continue to mock the attempts to move toward more accurate language by dismissing them as actions from “the PC police,” as Fox's Brian Kilmeade did on March 31. Previously, Fox's Neil Cavuto ridiculed the notion that calling someone an “illegal alien” could be dehumanizing, while hosts of the show Fox & Friends have praised their colleague's use of the term on live television and used it just moments before supposedly celebrating the contributions of Hispanics in the United States.